THE left-leaning Anakpawis Party-list on Thursday urged the House of Representatives to investigate the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the slow and even anomalous implementation of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) in typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) which struck areas in Eastern Visayas, Panay, Central Visayas, and some parts of Palawan.
Rep. Fernando Hicap said that despite the P18 billion supplemental budget, on top of the multi-billion peso original ESA funds, the DSWD has yet to fully provide emergency shelters to victims of Yolanda.
The militant lawmaker said, “the glaring delay and the unreasonably stringent requirements set by the DSWD’s memo circular no. 24 series of 2014 for ESA applicants flagrantly defeat the emergency nature and purpose of the said assistance program.”
Memo Circular No. 24 section IV Eligibility prescribes that only those who are earning below P15,000 monthly, are located in so-called unsafe areas, and are not receiving any assistance from overseas foreign worker relatives, other agencies and non-state institutions, could avail of the ESA.
According to typhoon victims who are members of Sagupa Sinirangan Visayas and Peoople Surge, despite their difficulties in availing the ESA, the national government and some local government units in Eastern Visayas are making it appear that the distribution of shelter assistance is being carried out without delay or irregularities.
There have been reports, for example, that the local government of Dapdap in Leyte province has allegedly been forcing Yolanda survivors to sign documents that show they have already received shelter assistance, P10,000 to those whose houses have been partially damaged, and P30,000 to victims with totally wrecked abodes.
Meanwhile, other reports point to how loan sharks, in cahoots with unscrupulous DSWD officials, are victimizing ESA applicants.
Under the “kase-kase” modus, usurers would lend cash with 16 percent interest to a potential ESA beneficiary. The DSWD would then release the shelter assistance not to the said beneficiary, but straight to the loan shark or financier.
“Congress should investigate such heartless schemes of corruption allegedly perpetrated by local financiers, corrupt local government officials and the DSWD itself on top of the gross display of incompetence and negligence by those who are supposed to look for the welfare of calamity victims,” Hicap said.
Hicap has filed a number of house resolutions concerning the rehabilitation efforts of the Aquino government in Yolanda-hit areas. House Resolution No. 669 seeks to investigate the alleged over-pricing of substandard bunkhouses constructed in Eastern Visayas.
House Resolution No. 947 urges the lower house to look into the impact of the government’s “no build, no dwell zone” policy on poor communities. House Resolution No. 1950 is after a more accurate accounting by the government of the actual damages wrought by typhoons Ruby, Seniang and Yolanda. The Makabayan lawmaker is set to file another resolution particularly regarding the ESA issue.
NEIL A. ALCOBER